Border collies are strong, high-spirited dogs that can live easily into their mid to late teens. Even by the time they enter their senior years, these dogs have a passion for work and exercise, so you shouldn't be surprised to find them still jumping fences, playing tricks and enjoying a swim.
Adjust their exercise routine. While an elderly border collie might be willing to go running after a ball, it doesn't mean he should. Border collies are prone to hip dysplasia and osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD), a degenerative bone disease, and elderly animals should avoid running, jumping and any type of exercise that puts heavy pressure on the hips and leg bones. Instead, teach your boy the wonders of swimming, which is good for leg muscle development and to ease the pain of arthritis, as well as gentle walks in the park.
Switch to a diet appropriate for senior dogs. The time for fatty scraps off the side of the table are gone. Instead, focus on high-quality food that provides all nutrients to keep your elderly dog going. Food bought at your vet's office usually is of better quality than anything you'll find at a supermarket. Supplements, like fish oil, can help with joint problems and will add a touch of yumminess to the food -- simply open a capsule of fish oil and pour the contents on top of your dog's food.
Provide a soft surface to sleep on. If your border collie is used to sleeping on the sofa or your bed, you might have to buy or build a ramp or steps to make getting on and off easier. Border collies have thick double coats, so they shouldn't be cold in the winter. However, like elderly people, elderly dogs might have trouble regulating their body temperature. If that means you have to get them a blanket or a hot water bottle to get through the night, well, so be it.
Stop moving the furniture around. Border collies sometimes are affected by focal/multifocal acquired retinopathy, an inflammatory eye condition that degenerates the retina and can lead to blindness. Dogs can adapt to blindness given the chance, but it probably means your days as an aspiring interior decorator are over. Moving things around can make it more difficult for a blind dog to get his bearings, so leave the sofa right where it is from now on.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.